Toycen Tradesman Grinder

Toycen Tradesman
Toycen Tradesman

I had a chance to test the Toycen Tradesman Grinder, a variable speed grinder with a DC motor that delivers a lot of torque even at the lowest speeds. It’s rated at 400 – 4000 rpm and claims five foot-pounds of torque at 1000 rpm. I loaded it up at low speed, pushing a piece of steel against the wheel with more force than I would ever use with a bonded-abrasive wheel and I could barely slow it down at all. The wheels — the ones I tested — are coated with cubic boron-nitride (CBN) for grinding steel. CBN is preferred over diamond for grinding steel if there is a chance the grinding process will generate red-heat temperatures. At high temperatures the diamond can be absorbed into the steel. Yes, steel loves carbon that much. So with CBN you can grind to your heart’s content (even carbide!) And the variable speed goes a long way to control that heat, allowing for relatively cool grinding of hardened steel. According to Toycen, as much as 50% of a grinder’s power is spent breaking down the stone wheel, generating heat and dust. With a bonded CBN wheel, no power is lost to stone wear and the only dust generated is the steel removed from whatever you are grinding.

The wheels are heavy (8 pounds each, 100 and 180-grit standard on this model) and precisely balanced. The Toycen video above demonstrates the smooth running by balancing a “loonie” on top (they’re a Canadian company, eh) through the full speed range. We use belt grinders here at the Hock shop, partly because I don’t like bench grinders all that much. Oh, they do they’re job and are almost essential for some things — and certainly handy for so many more — but bench grinders are rarely balanced, need constant dressing and truing and make way too much gritty dust. But the Toycen’s power, balance and quiet-running make this bench grinder a real pleasure to use.

Toycen Tradesman with the Tormek fixture
Toycen Tradesman with the Tormek fixture

The Tradesman I tested included a rod fixture that allows the use of all the Tormek jigs adding immensely to the functionality of this grinder. And there are other options —  wheel sizes, a belt grinder attachment — to serve many needs. The model I tested lists at $1275, a price that may discourage many woodworkers. But when you compare that with an 8-inch Baldor at $1029, and compare the Toycen’s considerable advantages, its price doesn’t seem so out of line.

For more about diamond, CBN and other abrasives, along with much more about tool steel and sharpening in general, read my book, The Perfect Edge.

Next Stop: WIA

Tool Makers at WIA 2011 -- "The Proud and Unplugged" photo by Brian Meek
“The Proud and Unplugged” at WIA 2011

While Linda and I are sad that we missed Handworks, we are signed up to attend Woodworking in America in Covington, Kentucky (greater Cincinnati) October 18 and 19 (the seminars continue into Sunday, the 20th but the marketplace is open Friday and Saturday only.) This will be our sixth WIA and we can’t wait to see everyone. I’m hoping that those of you that we missed seeing in Amana will come to Kentucky in October to say hi.

The photo above is of the tool makers that attended WIA in 2011. I asked Megan who was “in” for this year and here’s the list so far (in no particular order) of the small, independent toolmakers and woodworkers who will be there: Konrad Sauer, Sauer & Steiner Toolworks;  Raney Nelson, Daed Toolworks; Matt Bickford, M.S. Bickford; Mark Harrell, Bad Axe Toolworks; Dale Barnard, The Cabinetmaker, Inc.; Hamilton Woodworks; Jim Bode Tools; Tony Murland Antique Tools; Knew Concepts Saws; Mike Siemsen’s School of Woodworking; Peter Galbert Chairmaker; Patrick Leach, Superior Works;  Tico Vogt, Vogt Toolworks;  Chris Schwarz, Lost Art Press.

Joe, Lee, Konrad and John at WIA 2011
Joe, Lee, Konrad and John at WIA 2011

Of course you’ll have to elbow your way past Lie-Nielsen, Lee Valley and Woodcraft (not to mention the various purveyors of p*wer tools, glues, finishes, sandpaper and lumber) to find us but we’ll be there, the Proud and Unplugged, to discuss the fine points of our products, face-to-face, hand-to-hand. And while you’re not schmoozing with us toolmakers in the marketplace, there are classes galore presented by some of the top experts in woodworking and related disciplines (including a sharpening talk by yours truly). So register now to secure a place at the table. You can buy a one-day or three-day pass to the classes which includes admittance to the marketplace. Or you can buy a ticket to the marketplace only that will set you back a mere $8 online or $10 at the door. A bargain!

Clear the dates, make some plans, don’t delay (nearby lodging fills quickly) — space is limited. Linda and I hope to see you there.